VertiZonical – A Simple Photo Composition Memory Aid

Posted March 11th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

Vertizonical

I received a phone call the other day from a previous workshop attendee named Craig Quartz. He called to tell me a quick story about his last Meetup Group in Portland, Oregon where he was asked to share his top-ten tips for photography. While presenting to the group, he listed off a number of tips on exposure, exposing for the highlights, focus, and composition.

After finishing his tips, everyone in the room room yelled out, “What about Vertizonical!?” For the last number of years, he’s been sharing his favorite tip called Vertizonical to anyone in the club who would listen, but he neglected to mention it to the Portland Meetup group that night, so they all yelled it out in unison! Craig first learned this made-up term from me a few years ago at one of my workshops and now he shares it with anyone who will listen. I was talking about photographic composition and I made up the term vertizonical on the spot during the class. Obviously, the term stuck around!

 

Galapagos Sunset

Galapagos sunset in horizontal composition. Nikon D800, 200-400mm f/4, handheld.

Galapagos sunset

Galapagos sunset in vertical composition. Nikon D800, 200-400mm f/4, handheld.

Vertizonical is simply an approach to help you remember to always take both vertical and horizontal images of each scene you photograph. This discipline of shooting vertical and horizontal allows you the most options when you are editing your images back home after your photo shoot. It is much easier to take another 30 seconds in the field to shoot a different orientation than it is to try and do some industrial Photoshop work on your computer to create a composition that you never produced.

Galapagos lava field vertical

Galapagos lava field in vertical orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

Galapagos lava horizontal

Galapagos lava field in horizontal orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

Look at these photo examples from Galapagos in this blog post. Many of the images from this volcanic landscape are austere and dramatic. I love the challenge of creating compelling landscapes in difficult locations. While on the location, I work hard to compose my imagery in the best way possible. Even so, I’ve found over the years that I’m hardly ever the best judge of my compositions while I’m on location because my emotion takes over and due to the thrill of just being there.

Years ago, I was so confident, that I just “knew” that a specific composition was perfect as soon as I saw it. Unfortunately, I’d get home from my shoot and wish I had more options to choose from. Now that I’m older and wiser and more disciplined, I take the time in the field to shoot almost all my scenes vertically and horizontally.

hermit crab horizontal

Galapagos hermit crab in horizontal composition. Nikon D7000, Nikon 200-400mm f/4, Gitzo CF tripod.

Galapagos hermit crab

Galapagos hermit crab in vertical composition. Nikon D7000, Nikon 200-400mm f/4, Gitzo CF tripod.

Since I’m a professional photographer, this approach pays off financially for me in various ways.

– My book publishers often need images in a specific orientation for layouts.

– A commercial client needs a specific orientation for their brochures.

– A portrait customer needs a specific orientation for a wall display.

Shooting both verticals and horizontals of all my subjects helps me make more sales and reduces the amount of work I have to do in post-processing.

So, the simple summary is to shoot vertical then shoot horizontal. Vertizonical!

Galapagos beach

Galapagos beach in vertical orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

Galapagos beach

Galapagos beach in horizontal orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

We are headed to the Galapagos again this year and we’d love to have you along on the adventure. Check out our workshop page for more details at Visual Adventures Workshops.



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